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Holst: The Planets [DVD] [2010]

BBC National Orch Of Wales , David Atherton    Exempt   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 8.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: BBC National Orch Of Wales, David Atherton
  • Format: Anamorphic, Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Feb 2005
  • Run Time: 59 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007PHAWO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,100 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

This visualisation of Gustav Holst's orchestral masterpiece 'The Planets' and Colin Matthews' additional movement 'Pluto, the Renewer' features images which enhance the symbolic meaning attributed to each planet by the composer. Directed by Rhodri Huw, this audiovisual experience enthralled a massive TV audience with a blend of images filmed in many locations around the world (including New Mexico, Arizona and Scandinavia), computer graphics, animatronics and an atmospheric performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Product Description

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
After viewing many early DVDs of classical music that didn't show the performers but rather featured generally insipid pastoral or other picturesque scenes that moved slowly across one's screen and bored one to tears, I was prepared to dislike this new DVD that 'illustrates' a performance of Gustav Holst's popular orchestral suite, 'The Planets.' I was extremely surprised and pleased, then, that during this hour-long DVD I never once lost interest in the visuals. My interest, as anyone who has read my other Amazon reviews knows, is classical music, and generally I am more fascinated by the performance in the DVD than by the visuals. This time, though, the main purpose is the visuals and the production's director, Rhodri Huw, succeeded handsomely in putting together an extraordinarily varied filmic collage that aptly fits the tempo and tone of the music.
As you know, Holst's suite features a tone poem for each of the solar system's planets known when he wrote it in 1918. They appear in 'The Planets' in this order: Mars, the Bringer of War; Venus, the Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age; Uranus, the Magician; and Neptune, the Mystic. Notice that Earth is not included, nor is Pluto, which was not discovered until 12 years after Holst wrote the suite. In this performance by David Atherton and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales a newly written (2000) section, 'Pluto, the Renewer,' written by English composer Colin Matthews, is included as the last movement.
The musical performance is unexceptionable. Atherton is a fine conductor and his orchestral responds alertly and subtly to his direction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable visual treat! 18 Mar 2010
By jmae65
Format:DVD
I have just watched this tonight on Sky Arts and having been a fan of The Planets was not sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely visuals of this program. Even though the Neptune sequence was a bit like a strange 60's acid trip, I found the program enjoyable to watch. I will most definitely purchase a copy for myself for future viewing. The Planets original series is much more informative indeed, but for those who love the musical composition, it is worth a look.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many visual effects 11 April 2007
Format:DVD
I bought this DVD so that I could watch the Welsh National Orchestra in action while listening to the music. I was very disappointed. The DVD was ruined for me by the endless visual effects. These were a mix of what appeared to be clips from the news about war zones and the work of an artistic music `promo video' producer who had been given the green light to go over the top. I was quite dizzy by the end and the visuals had taken my attention off the music. This might be interesting for a `one off' showing but I just wanted to watch the orchestra playing this impressive music. The few glimpses that I did see of the orchestra showed them to be in an interesting formation in pretty atmospheric lighting. They played very well. I hope this performance can be re released without the distracting effects, or at least to give the choice of not watching them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visually Stunning Accompaniment to Holst's 'The Planets' 15 April 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
After viewing many early DVDs of classical music that didn't show the performers but rather featured generally insipid pastoral or other picturesque scenes that moved slowly across one's screen and bored one to tears, I was prepared to dislike this new DVD that 'illustrates' a performance of Gustav Holst's popular orchestral suite, 'The Planets.' I was extremely surprised and pleased, then, that during this hour-long DVD I never once lost interest in the visuals. My interest, as anyone who has read my other Amazon reviews knows, is classical music, and generally I am more fascinated by the performance in the DVD than by the visuals. This time, though, the main purpose is the visuals and the production's director, Rhodri Huw, succeeded handsomely in putting together an extraordinarily varied filmic collage that aptly fits the tempo and tone of the music.

As you know, Holst's suite features a tone poem for each of the solar system's planets known when he wrote it in 1918. They appear in 'The Planets' in this order: Mars, the Bringer of War; Venus, the Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age; Uranus, the Magician; and Neptune, the Mystic. Notice that Earth is not included, nor is Pluto, which was not discovered until 12 years after Holst wrote the suite. In this performance by David Atherton and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales a newly written (2000) section, 'Pluto, the Renewer,' written by English composer Colin Matthews, is included as the last movement.

The musical performance is unexceptionable. Atherton is a fine conductor and his orchestral responds alertly and subtly to his direction. We rarely actually see the orchestra in this production and when we do they are generally lit dramatically; mostly we get close-ups of instrumentalists. But by far the preponderant visuals are unendingly fascinating snippets from all over the world, computer-generated graphics, animatronics all mixed and matched in fascinating combinations. There is no real effort to illustrate the planets themselves--how could one, actually, illustrate the planets?--but since Holst appended subtitles for each planet, that is the focus. For instance, for 'Mars, Bringer of War,' we get quick montages of armaments being manufactured, military aircraft, rocket launchers and, towards the end, the faces of victims of war. 'Venus, the Bringer of Peace,' for instance, is illustrated by very quiescent scenes, generally of isolated parts of the earth (is there a message here that the only peaceful places are those barely touched by the hand of man?). 'Mercury, the Winged Messenger,' itself a quirky scherzo, is illustrated almost exclusively by computer-generated images that match the mercurial nature of the music. 'Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity,' includes many different scenes of celebration, laughter, and frolic, including some unforgettable scenes from one iteration of the now-famous 'Burning Man' art festival that occurs yearly in the Nevada desert. 'Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age,' seems to follow the growth and development of a boy through childhood, young adulthood, maturity, and senescence. The scenes used to illustrate it are actually quite touching. And so on. I can only reiterate that Huw has chosen extremely apt images, tends not to intercut too quickly or linger too long on each, and he clearly has the tempo and rhythm of the music in mind although there is not a feeling that he slavishly follows these in his filmic rhythms. He must have reviewed literally miles of film to find the scenes he includes.

Matthews 'Pluto', which I'd never heard before, is only slightly more advanced in idiom that Holst's music and it really does sound of a piece with the rest of the suite. He has done a nice job. He recognized that Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun and one hears echoes of Vaughan Williams's icy Antarctica in his orchestration.

All in all, this is a very successful effort and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to find that graphic illustration of music in a DVD is a viable artistic possibility.

Scott Morrison
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Teachers: Beware! 17 Aug 2011
By John Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Musically, this is a very good recording. Theoretically, I like the idea of a visualization of the music. Artistically, I question some of the choices the editors used to visualize Holst's work.

Many of the selections worked quite well with the video paired with the music. Venus, Mercury, and Uranus were especially well done, I thought. In particular, I liked very much the way the orchestra was shot during the times they are shown on screen. However, I had some problems with the video selection for Jupiter.

I am a music teacher, and purchased this DVD for use in my classes. Thankfully I previewed it before showing it in class! Nowhere in any of the reviews I read or on the package itself did I see anything that warned me that the DVD contained nudity! Part of the filming for Jupiter took place at the Burning Man festival, where several women are seen topless. The nudity is absolutely not sexual in nature, but it is still not appropriate material for me to show in school.

I understand that the UK does not have the cultural stigma about nudity that we have here in the States, but I still wish the makers of this DVD had chosen something with more universal appeal for my favorite movement from The Planets.

If the nudity won't bother you, then, by all means, get this DVD. I just wanted to make sure that folks considering buying this know what they are getting!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for classical music listeners 17 Jun 2011
By walt8 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I borrowed this from my public library starting about a year ago. After taking it out for the 4th time, I reckoned I had to get a copy for myself. I have not seen anything that approaches what this film does, visualizing a piece of complex and moving orchestral music.
It's not a literal tale, and not a direct story of the planets themselves, but about spiritual connections we have had with the names and the mythical gods they are named for.
As far as the recording, it is as precise (no easy task) and athletic as any I have ever listened to (as a HS. student it was Sir George Solti and the Chicago Symphony LP I had on my turntable). The editing, where the director turns to the orchestra is itself very precise. He lets you see the passion in the players. Purists may be put of at first by the sound that accompanies the visuals (I did at first), but it is mixed so the music never takes a back seat.
If you have HI-FI, and Hi Def, a big TV and a big audio system, this is a must.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed, partly... 26 Feb 2013
By Laszlo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I just purchased this and my writing might reflect my anger at some of the non-deliverables.
Of course, I try to convince myself not to pay serious attention to most Amazon reviews posted by people who don't cover all aspects, good and bad, of a release, and only provide a glowing five stars and an ego trip. That is, I should NOT buy based only on their egotistical and totally subjective, merely partial assessment of the issue.
As always with DVDs, especially and sadly with classical stuff, the production itself is the problem here; and I wished someone would have noted and report these things before my decision to purchase.
First, I thought the performance excellent, but why not offer it in separate Audio tracks as well? i.e., without the additional sound effects? Now that would be a truly good buy, because. again, the performance and recording are supreme and it offers the option of putting the visuals (and sound effects) aside.
Second, nothing wrong with the visual aspect, which is earthy and hardly esoteric. I might not agree with their spirit but it is the director's prerogative to use whatever he deems appropriate. BUT: omitting the filming sites on the credits was frustrating to me. Jupiter offers so much of a interesting glimpse at carnivals, Spanish ferias, etc. yet who knows where and when is that. Since I truly do not know what those seductive places are (and I have been around!) I went to the credits, and NOTHING.
As such, I remain curious and unsatisfied with a DVD that could have been a superb release, worth sharing.
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